“Claiming Law School as a Place for Stories”

This lecture, courtesy of Professor James R. Elkin of West Virginia University School of Law, is a short reflection on the place and effect of stories and storytelling on law students.

I think Elkins does a nice job of discussing topics that many law students understand but rarely hear talked about, and that we here at Legal Narratives are hoping to build the site towards being able to discuss. There are so many stories that shape students come in, so many experiences that help them to decide how they see themselves as members of the legal profession, and law schools rarely make room for them to be shared.

While this is because of a genuine focus on wanting to teach them “how to think like lawyers,” the lack of room often means that students who don’t fit that narrative- whose backgrounds are not what a traditional lawyer might have- end up leaving the profession as they feel isolated and cast out. This is a big problem since the world is getting ever smaller and more diverse, and without those diverse lawyers, the profession will end up getting left behind. Maybe these problems will start to be addressed if, as Elkins suggests, we turn to stories and give students the space they need to form these new identities.

And imagine how better, diverse, and more inclusive our profession could be if they are.